The Hartcliffe Saints football team was initially established by the local beat manager Matt McQuaid as a diversionary activity for older teens who had, in the majority, previously been involved in anti-social behaviour (ASB).
Within Hartcliffe, there has been an issue of a lack of affordable sport, particularly football. Many young people have wanted to play but couldn't afford memberships and do not have transport to get to games. One of the results has been that many have been involved in ASB. Hartcliffe has a large number of young people who aren't in education, training or employment and lack direction in life or have no enthusiasm for it. The team also includes other young people who are not involved in ASB but have a love of football but not necessarily the skills or motivation to be able to join in with other teams.
The football team aims to encourage young people to be active, to bring different groups of young people together, to engage them in positive activity and to enable them to put something back into the community (through fun days etc). In October 2009, ENOUGH, came on board to help the team become a sustainable project by providing regular volunteers. We want to encourage the players to be committed and for it to be a springboard to other opportunities. We now have a regular weekly football training session and we have around 25 players with the number growing.
We have already witnessed a vast improvement in a lot of the boys and would love to see this escalate and spread out to the groups they hang out with; some have quit smoking and drinking through the training, it has helped them to get into the routine of commitment and has enabled them to be committed to college and we have supported some of them in getting jobs through building positive relationships with adults who can be positive role models. We have seen an increase in them being proud of being from a BS13 area. A lot of the boys are from very chaotic homes where life is constantly changing and can be very unpredictable, we very much see the team as a consistent element in their lives that provides support, encouragement, stability and purpose and gives us a chance to be a dependable support for them as individuals.
Joining the BCFA for the 2010/11 season was a great step forward for the team. The team had been playing friendlies but they were itching to get their teeth stuck into something more. A few of the lads had never played for a team and so this was to be a completely new experience for them.
Over the time we have been involved, we have been keen to enforce on and off pitch discipline and it's working. They have really enjoyed playing the teams from the league and have responded well to the challenge and the competition that has been placed in front of them.
The team have received an award from Safer Bristol in recognition of their success and have been give the title "Young CommunityTransformers 2009" of which they are incredibly proud, came first in an Avon and Somerset Police tournament of which the organiser commented "The team can be proud of the way they presented themselves and entered into the spirit of the event." They have even secured sponsorship for their kits from Burton and Sweet, their generosity has been fantastic and has enabled the team to go into matches sporting a bright pink kit!
Within the project we run, our aim is to provide a consistent holistic approach to the young people that we work with and the football team is one way of us being able to do this.
"It's fun, the team gets on well and it's a good thing to be doing." Jack Crocker
"I enjoy going to football because I have a strong passion for football and every session there's something new to learn, a new goal to reach. Our coach is great and the commitment in our team shows that we can go far and accomplish many things." Shane Pearce
"It's good to keep fit. I made new friends." Brad Thompson
"I enjoy going to football training because it's sport and it's active. It's really fun to play football, it's a really good sport to play and you meet new people." Shane Herbert